[tugs] Follow up: Sidney Smith Hall, 5th. floor asbestos incident

  • From: "TUGS" <tugs@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <tugsgeneral@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>, <tugsexec@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>,<ensuexec@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 20 Mar 2002 00:23:04 -0500

-----Original Message-----
From: Robert Hanks [mailto:robert.hanks@xxxxxxxxxxx] 
Sent: March 19, 2002 22:49
To: Ray deSouza
Cc: bollersm@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx; news@xxxxxxxxxxxxx;
varsity@xxxxxxxxxxxxx; info@xxxxxxxxxxx;
everyone@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx; iweekly@xxxxxxxxx
Subject: Follow up: Sidney Smith Hall, 5th. floor asbestos incident

Dear Ray - This incident was brought to my attention on Monday night. 
After consultation with the executive of CUPE 3902, we decided to 
warn our members that night of this threat to their health and 
safety. We issued our warning on Monday night. Our subsequent 
investigation has verified that this was the correct course of action.

Here are the facts as I know them (as of Tuesday night).

On Sunday afternoon, some students spotted a substantial hole in the 
ceiling on the fifth floor of Sid Smith (near room 5012). There was 
also substantial water damage. They returned, took pictures that 
evening and reported this to the campus police that night. No action 
was taken by the administration until Monday morning. Even though a 
mere crack in the ceiling should be enough to set off an asbestos 
warning , and even though Sid Smith has a past history of asbestos 
problems, this was treated as a plumbing incident rather than an 
asbestos incident. While containment sheets were set up around the 
damaged area, an air quality test was only considered after CUPE 3902 
began to take public action on Monday night and Tuesday morning.

Your e-mail below notes that:

"Since the ceiling tile was wet from the water leak there is a very 
small potential for any asbestos to become airborne."

Given that tiny amounts of asbestos can be lethal, I do not believe 
that there is such a thing as a "very small" asbestos threat. Given 
that a substantial hole was spotted on Sunday, and who knows how long 
it had been there before it was spotted, it is reasonable to assume 
that the threat is much more than "very small". I believe that it is 
imperative that an air quality test be conducted immediately, and 
that the results be made known to the university community as soon as 

I also believe that a fuller investigation by outside experts must be 
taken to ascertain that the fifth floor of Sid Smith meets provincial 
standards for asbestos maintenance.

I fear that this incident is simply the tip of the iceberg created by 
a huge backlog of deferred maintenance in older buildings on campus.

The following questions need to be answered:

1) How extensive is the water damage?
2) Why was there such a delay in ordering an air quality test?
3) Why were no warnings issued?
4) What is the current threat to workers and students on the fifth 
floor of Sid Smith?

Please advise us on your plans. When will we get the results of the 
air quality test? We expect immediate and effective action.

Sincerely yours,

Rob Hanks
Liaison Officer
CUPE Local 3902

>Here is a copy of the note I sent to occupants of Sidney Smith Hall. 
>Please feel free to distribute it as you see fit or contact me if you 
>feel this message should be sent elsewhere.
>Concerns have been expressed regarding possible asbestos exposure on 
>the 5th. floor of Sidney Smith Hall. I have discussed the incident with

>the Director of Environmental Health and Safety and wish to report the 
>following details:
>At approximately 9:30 a.m. Monday morning (March 18, 2002), Facilities 
>and Services received a call regarding a water leak on the 5th. floor 
>of Sidney Smith Hall. the area was checked by the building operating 
>engineer and he confirmed that a drain line was leaking. Trades 
>plumbers were informed and arrived shortly after noon to attend to the 
>repair. The area was cleaned up, the damaged tile was bagged as 
>asbestos waste and the area vacummed. A temporary patch was installed 
>on the drain line and the area was sealed with a plastic tent.
>Permanent repairs are currently underway. The area remains tented and 
>the work is being done by trained personnel following approved 
>procedures. Since the ceiling tile was wet from the water leak there is

>a very small potential for any asbestos to become airborne.
>We will monitor the situation and will inform all building occupants of

>any changes. In the meantime there is no need for panic. A meeting of 
>the joint health and safety committee for Sidney Smith Hall will be 
>convened as soon as possible
>Ray deSouza
>Ray deSouza
>Director,Planning and Infrastructure
>Office of the Dean
>Faculty of Arts and Science
>University of Toronto
>100 St. George Street, Toronto, ON M5S 3G3, Canada
>Telephone: 416-978-0904; Fax: 416-946-5271
>EMAIL: desouza@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx



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  • » [tugs] Follow up: Sidney Smith Hall, 5th. floor asbestos incident